We say we want kids to have a thinking faith, but we often create the opposite with 5 questions to avoid asking kids. A skill we need to get better at is asking good questions. Here’s what we often ask: How many disciples did Jesus have? What were the disciples’ names? Which disciple was with Jesus at the cross? Which disciple did Jesus appear to after he rose from the dead? All of these questions are closed-ended and basic recall–which are two types of questions we need to avoid.
Instead, imagine asking these questions: Why do you think Jesus chose 12 close disciples? Why do you think some people wanted to be Jesus’ disciple while others didn’t? Why do you think Thomas couldn’t believe in Jesus until he saw with his own eyes? When have you been like Thomas?
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In our editing of FaithWeaver Now, we’re eradicating 5 types of questions that do nothing to create a thinking faith for children. You can do the same with the curriculum you’re using. Here are the five questions to avoid asking children.
1. Basic Recall Questions–The first set of questions above are basic recall. Some might argue that we need to ask these questions to check whether kids got the basic truths or facts. I would argue instead that asking deeper questions that get at kids’ understanding will reveal whether kids got the basic facts or not. In my opinion, basic recall questions are a waste of time and should be avoided like the plague. Take kids deeper in their understanding and you’ll nurture transformative discoveries!
2. Close-Ended Questions–Questions that can be answered with one answer are closed ended: yes, no, maybe, good, bad, etc. The point of asking children questions is to create a dialogue–not to test them! One little girl felt so drilled by closed-ended questions that when she came home, she told her mom that she had taken a test at Sunday school. Use open-ended questions to create a vibrant conversation.
3. Guessing Questions–We ask so many questions where kids are just guessing: “What did Mary feel when Jesus died?” How would they know? They’re just guessing. “Why did Judas betray Jesus?” Again–guessing. Simply adding “what do you think” to these questions helps because kids don’t have to guess about what they think. So ask, “How do you think Mary felt as Jesus died on the cross?” or “Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus?” Even better, ask: “Why do you think Jesus didn’t kick Judas out of the group before his betrayal?”
4. Projection Questions–Often, in an attempt to move kids to life application (which is important), we ask kids to project into the future: “What would you do if an angel appeared to you?” or “What would you do if someone challenged your faith in Jesus?” Again, they’re guessing about the future. Instead, we can ask kids to think through options: “What could you do if an angel appeared to you?” or “What could you do if someone challenged your faith in Jesus?” A great follow-up to that last question would be “Which of those options do you think would be the hardest or the easiest for you to do?” Another great antidote to Projection Questions is to ask kids to tell about a time where they actually experienced what you’re talking about: “Tell about a time someone made fun of you for being a Christian.”
5. Not Age-Appropriate Questions–(I can’t think of a term for the opposite of Age-Appropriate). It’s frustrating for children and teachers when questions are above their ability or their knowledge base. As I edited the three younger age levels of FaithWeaver NOW, I was excited to see the questions become even more age-appropriate since we’ll use this curriculum in my 2-year-old class this fall. No more blank stares from my little ones!
Here’s to you getting the kids in your ministry developing a thinking faith that’ll give them a strong foundation not only in what they believe, but also why they believe!